Is a Hybrid Locum Arrangement Right for You?

You are privately practicing psychiatrist trying to nurse a 30-year career across the finish line. You are not ready to fully retire yet, but you cannot see yourself continuing in private practice five days a week, 52 weeks a year. You also do not relish the idea of closing your practice to work as a hospital employee. What do you do? Is there any way for you to finish out your career on your own terms? Absolutely. Just go locum (

Before you dismiss locum work out of hand, consider that it is possible to employ a hybrid strategy that could give you everything you are looking for in the final stages of your career. The hybrid strategy is one that works well for psychiatry inasmuch as the demand for psychiatry locums is pretty strong right now. Doctors can truly make locum work anything they want it to be.

The Hybrid Strategy Explained

In a typical locum setting, the psychiatrist operates on one of two models. The first is to moonlight. This means continuing with private practice while taking extra work nights and weekends. Moonlighting is not ideal for the psychiatrist nearing the end of his or her career and looking to scale back.

The other model is to completely close a private practice and transition to exclusive locum work. The psychiatrist takes a series of assignments throughout the year to fill up his/her schedule as desired.

The hybrid strategy is a combination of the two. The best way to understand it is to consider a scenario in which you would work three days at your private practice and two days, as a locum, in a rural setting outside of town. The hybrid strategy works on a number of levels:

  • A Weekly Break – Under this model, the psychiatrist gets a weekly break from the office. The break offers a regular opportunity to recharge, see a different environment, work with different people, etc.
  • Rural Needs – The need for psychiatric services in rural areas is not as pronounced as it is in urban environments. A rural hospital or clinic may only need a psychiatrist on site a couple of days a week, so they are not likely to make excessive demands on the locum.
  • Less Pressure – We are guessing that one of the things you are facing as you finish up your career is the immense pressure that comes with working in psychiatry for decades. Psychiatry is not an easy field of medicine, that’s for sure. But spending two days per week in a rural environment can help relieve a lot of the pressure.

You Can Make It Happen

Be advised that staffing agencies do not necessarily offer tailor-made hybrid programs for locums. That means you will have to create a hybrid strategy yourself. You may have to arrange work privately or work through multiple agencies until you can find the kind of rural assignment that meets your needs. But make no mistake; you can make it happen if you want to.

Locum medicine has truly exploded over the last 7 to 8 years due to the persistent shortage of medical professionals across the country. Furthermore, hospitals and clinics now truly appreciate the value of locums to an extent they did not a couple of decades ago. We are now in an environment in which locums are truly in the driver’s seat of their careers.

For the last few years of your psychiatric practice, you deserve to work in whatever way suits you. If that means a hybrid arrangement, we encourage you to go for it.

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